Top Myanmar Travelling Tips – Myanmar Visa Information
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country officially called Burma gained independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it had not been up until 1989 that the ruling military junta altered the nation’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was seen as a relic of the nation’s previous British colonial past, and also Myanmar as more inclusive of the many ethnic groups in the nation. Various other names were likewise changed, which is why you will see Rangoon currently referred to as Yangon.
For tourism, Burma travel is Myanmar travel. Same same, as they say in Southeast Asia.
Both the names Burma and also Myanmar are still made use of interchangeably, on the ground as well as on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say as well as the concern: does it even matter?
Best Times to Visit Myanmar
There are normally three seasons in which you can go to Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter season
March to May: Hot, summertime period
May to October: Damp, rainy period
The popular, high season is November to February when the climate is warm yet not stifling, and draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the minimal holiday accommodation choices difficult to secure as well as will imply trying to book ahead or deal with paying for the a lot more costly alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature rises in Myanmar as well as impending rains are due. There is a limited number of travelers which makes it easy to book holiday accommodation but it is exceptionally warm.
An e-Visa is available to tourists from these 100 nations.
To obtain one, go to the official e-Visa internet site. You’ll need to submit a passport photo and also pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 mins to apply and also you should get approval within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter is valid for 90- days from the day of issue and permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy might be more affordable– if you intend to save some cash, applying for a visa through your local Myanmar embassy may be cheaper. As an example, the cost is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the U.S.A., so do your research and don’t neglect to factor in mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and also Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at 3 Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Read the immigration website for the current at the time you take a trip.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the typical option for travellers as the first mode of entry, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. But, considering where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North as well as northeast, Thailand and also Laos to the eastern and also India as well as Bangladesh to its west– there are multiple avenues for land entry, although not all of them are advised due to safety and security.
No matter, you need to define a “Port of Entry” in your online application which denotes just how you will certainly be getting to Myanmar. You will certainly be given a listing of options, where you will require to select among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (situated right in the middle of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (positioned in between Mandalay and Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border to northern Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the boundary to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Region on the boundary of the Thai Peninsula as well as the collection of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the boundary to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the boundary village of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the border of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can go into Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” yet it is best to stick to the one you initially mentioned ideally to avoid any type of hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and also Land Border Checkpoints considering that your exit point does not need to be stated up front. In addition, you might leave at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although entrance from here is not possible.
Flying in and also out of Yangon is cheaper and has extra links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transportation alternatives may be irritating but the long distance propositions are far more appealing.
Distances are far, road travel is slow as well as flying is affordable so it might be your much better choice.
You can still reserve flights the traditional method by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a little bit like flying in the older days– check-in entails ticking individuals off a listing of printed names, baggage claim can mean leaving the airport terminal and also getting your bag off a trolley by the plane and also flight announcements are made by a person holding up a sign as well as calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It really is an experience. And a great deal of fun if you do not let it get you stressed.Buses are cost effective with competing companies as well as a variety of deluxe levels.
The majority of buses travel overnight which is great for not losing a day of sightseeing, but isn’t so excellent for rest. Likewise, you’ll have a tendency to arrive at odd times in the early morning and also will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel up until 2 p.m. That’s a lot of hrs waiting for a ‘top-up’ nap. Consider if it will be cheaper to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the same evening to sleep straight away.
Buses are extremely cold, the high-end buses will give you a blanket but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus does not have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every couple of hours for a food as well as toilet break– a bit discouraging if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, even though these are the buses which bring you to your location around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local music CD’s as well as tacky video till the early hrs of the morning. Pack your iPod, buy some durable extreme ear plugs or kindly ask for the sound to be shut off.
Never ever ask a driver about he time of arrival. Due to superstitious notions based upon a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will come to a destination summons bad spirits and is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t get an answer.
You will generally reserve buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will typically bill a fee yet know that the charge can vary drastically.
Check whether pick-up is included in your ticket price – this really does differ depending upon destination, mode of travel as well as company. Search for a firm that does include pickup as taxis are exorbitant.
Booking buses online is harder– There isn’t one helpful on-line booking site as well as the ones that do exist have a minimal number of tickets. If you’re informed they’re sold out, it doesn’t necessarily imply the bus is full. Try booking somewhere else.
If the company has a Facebook web page, message to book without costs.
Buses are usually faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you could take into consideration taking tablets for nausea. Boats are likewise an alternative for some routes; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular among tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, however most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– along with guesthouses and also hotels in other places– can arrange cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing and this is most frustratingly noticeable in the local transport.
With minimal public transportation, taxis will certainly be your major way of navigating particularly for getting to and from airport terminals as well as within cities like Yangon as well as Mandalay.
Taxi prices are beyond extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a fast ‘how much can I get away with’ computation) and you’re going to have to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear rates of $1-$2 per kilometre. Typically the taxi to as well as from the airport/bus will certainly be greater than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate quantity for taxi fares.
Cabs for the day might be your much better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of taking in the sights in Bagan and also $28 for a few hours in Mandalay.
Distance is a much bigger factor than time in determining the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hr trip around Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each way, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is costly in Myanmar as well as is a huge contributing variable to the expense.
Everyone wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk manufacturing facility or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing journeys. Do not hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transport. After all, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, a few of the side journeys can be interesting as well as drivers may take you to some cool places that aren’t on your travel plan and you may be happy you chose their suggestions!
Hiring bikes as well as e-Bikes (electrical motorbikes) outside the cities is much cheaper however beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, and also almost all visitors create a dust cough. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Do not take an e-Bike if you can not handle it– otherwise you’ll be just one of the numerous tourists walking toting head to foot road rash and also plasters.
The huge cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 kilometres should give you an idea. The time advised for getting to the bus terminal (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hours.
Car quality is hit and miss so do not count on air-conditioning and leather seats– that 1.5 hr journey in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Prepare for the unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the really early hrs of the morning, your only option to reach my hotel may be by means of horse and cart. There is still a haggling process to be had, yet considering that this is the main form of tourist transport here it is only all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money as well as ATMs in Myanmar
You can use 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to use dollars, they have to be immaculate. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased as well as more recent than 2006. Each individual note is checked thoroughly for defects, discolouration as well as creases at the money exchange booths. You could likewise have trouble changing notes with the AB/CB identification numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in US bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is most likely to be less expensive since the USD currency exchange rate is informal– somewhere between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the currency exchange rate is usually applied on the spot, most likely relying on how rich you look.
There are ATM machines and also they mainly work yet make certain you have money before showing up at more remote places like the coastline. Sometimes they might be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM charge of about $4 for each withdrawal which is in addition to any fees your financial institution could bill. As well as you most likely will not be able to withdraw more than $150 each time.
ATMs give kyat only. There are plenty of exchange places around, yet primarily the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the large cities orinternational flight terminal to change cash back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines as well as need cash payment. If you have reserved your hotels in advance online this may save you taking additional cash for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted mainly just in top-end resorts. Some travel agents in Yangon and also Mandalay also take them, usually billing a small charge, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being built. That includes guesthouses and also dining establishments. Companies are recouping their expenses.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a standard private room with en-suite from around $35 for a single bed. In traveler hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a dingy, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a good example where luxury comes at a rate of $250 per night) with other great options being available at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can cost USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package vacationer’ destinations like Ngapali coastline can set you back as much as $100 a night for a 2-star hotel (though there are a number of hostels there too). On the bonus side, you usually obtain a free breakfast with your lodging.
Street food is most affordable– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or including something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is economical, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also economical at a number of dollars per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Expect to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and utilizing squat toilets, getting in pagodas, storing shoes as well as taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are prominent in the much more touristy areas.
It’s possible to negotiate on costs of items like mementos yet if you bargain too hard the locals lose interest and walk away.
Tipping is not usual technique in Myanmar, and also it’s only foreigners who tip.
Sightseeing and tour in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as fast asleep by 10pm! The heat is commonly excruciating throughout the peak sunlight hours and the arrival of the tourist buses make it harder to get remarkable pictures and also walk around freely.
Not everywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous location of Myanmar, together with the western Chin State as well as the far, criminal activity levels are incredibly low.
Still, you need to take the usual precautions of utilizing hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Female visitors should not experience any harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the money is dirty as well as there isn’t always soap in washrooms so utilize your sanitiser prior to you touch anything that will go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be extremely dusty so do bring something to cover your mouth and nose when biking around. Also take care with your air conditioning– Myanmar can be as warm. As a result, many visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperatures can make you ill.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your body immune system with nutrients in this way. However, as it’s commonly pre-cut, search for a vendor that has kept the flies away and also if it’s sluiced with water, make certain it’s filtered water.
Safety and security
The majority of government advisories warn against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities and also the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has caused the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the nation continue to be shut to foreigners due to problem in between the government as well as different ethnic armies gathered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These areas are primarily in Kachin and Shan States, near the frontiers with China as well as Thailand, and also far from the major vacationer locations.
Exact details on problems and also closed locations can be tough to come by. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, and inquire about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good source of information from travellers on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
Most of the locals dress conservatively| and cover their shoulders and legs despite the high temperatures, and also you will certainly make everyone much more comfortable if you do the same.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as t-shirts are the clothing of choice. These are highly encouraged and also frequently enforced for going into the temples and pagodas.
Every person wears skirts– males and females alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Many travelers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warm as well as tick the ‘conservative wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so grab a cheap one a the market if you have the opportunity.
Flip flops are crucial! Entering pagodas indicates going barefoot and also flip flops are the very best footwear choice. Dealing with laces in the scorching heat is an unwanted interruption. Bring some cleansing wipes for your feet after visiting a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative country so you’ll blend far better if you clothe conservatively (covering your knees as well as shoulders). You will certainly find people in shorts and also strappy tops in the cities and also at the beach yet somewhere else it’s much less usual.
The local people are remarkably genteel and not used to confrontation so pack your good manners as well as your patience. Travelling can be irritating, warm and slow yet keep in mind: you chose to go to Myanmar and that it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the residents. Nonetheless, haggle hard with the cab drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by residents that want to talk. Visitors are no more a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia however Myanmar is different. Generally individuals are beautiful as well as more than happy to appear in photographs as well as attempt and also speak through limited typical words or sign language.
You mayadditionally get stared at a great deal which is normally best handled by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be difficult to comprehend, be patient, pay attention as well as if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have great clear English before you book.
The red stained sidewalks are a consequence of spitting red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, small parcels which contain tobacco, spices as well as areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s most likely popular| because it provides a hit that amounts to six mugs of coffee. Yet, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spewed out, many times onto the ground.
Lots of residents have the tell tale red discolored teeth and cab drivers commonly roll down the window in slow-moving traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by kids in Myanmar and also as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the kids. Why not? Read this brilliant write-up by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese ladies. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar as well as also serves as a sunscreen.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the coffee shops as well as restaurants as residents utilize the kissing noise as a call for service. Apparently it’s less complicated for staff to recognize the place of the kissing noise so do not be surprised!
Both crucial phrases you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it respectful, however it is well received. Be prepared for the majority of citizens to giggle in reaction– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Various other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is generally done by hand and is billed per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your clothes washed and also unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, pick the items you actually need washing and wash your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are simple to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet paper or sanitary products– this is really typical in developing countries where the plumbing system can not handle anything besides bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that unusual half-hour difference| to its time area so it’s 6 and a half hrs in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have multiple adaptors for European and North American 2-pin connects along with British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, better still, buy a local SIM. You can get one at many flight terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the road and the store personnel will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can find out more about your network choices below. Still, with 1 mbps considered to be a ‘quick’ connection, do not expect to be downloading video clips whenever. Online accessibility has improved, with wi-fi the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it free of cost– as well as the net is currently spreading tofarther locations. Yet tightly squeezed bandwidth and also power outages can make using the web a discouraging exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also don’t expect to Skype home extremely often, it’s hardly possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a suitcase. Travel suitcases aren’t optimal on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Getting in and also out of myriad forms of transportation and also hefting it up several high stairs isn’t better.
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